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  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The growing internal schisms and factionalism within Somalia's Islamist movement risk plunging the country even deeper into violence and bloodshed, with dangerous implications for the wider region and beyond. These divisions are also aggravating the political crisis by polarising groups further along ideological, theological and clan lines. However, a limited opportunity may now exist for Somalia's political actors and the international community to capitalise on these divisions and re-alignments to reach out to the increasing numbers of domestic militants disenchanted with the growing influence of foreign jihadis and extremist elements bent on pursuing a global agenda.
  • Topic: Islam, Fragile/Failed State, Governance, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Indonesia and Timor-Leste have done much to normalise relations ten years after the end to Indonesian rule in the former province, but the goodwill between capitals is not yet matched by full cooperation on the border. The costs are greatest in Oecusse, Timor-Leste's isolated enclave inside Indonesian West Timor. Negotiators have so far failed to agree on two segments of Oecusse's border, leaving open the risk that minor local disputes could be politicised and escalate into larger conflicts. Without a final demarcation, steps to improve management of the porous border have stalled. Initiatives that would promote exchanges and lessen the enclave's isolation remain unimplemented. As the bonds between the two nations grow, they should prioritise this unfinished business. Leaving it unresolved can only promote crime, corruption and the possibility of conflict.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Bilateral Relations, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Jama'ah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), led by Indonesia's bestknown radical cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, has been an enigma since its founding in 2008. An ostensibly aboveground organisation, it has embraced individuals with known ties to fugitive extremists. It has welcomed many members of the militant Jema'ah Islamiyah (JI) but clashed with the JI leadership over strategy and tactics. It preaches jihad against Islam's enemies but insists it stays within the law – though it rejects man-made laws as illegitimate. It is a mass membership organisation but wholly dependent on Ba'asyir, without whom it would quickly disintegrate. It has become an important element in the network of Indonesian jihadi groups but has been the target of harsh criticism from some erstwhile allies. Understanding JAT's nature, its many faces and the ideological rifts it has generated helps illuminate the weakness and divisions within the Indonesian jihadi movement today. It also highlights the ongoing but probably diminishing influence of Ba'asyir.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Politics, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: President Álvaro Uribe's eight-year military campaign against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has taken a heavy toll on Colombia's largest insurgent organisation. The government is now working to consolidate security gains by expanding state presence in several of the formerly most conflict-ridden regions. This strategy faces numerous challenges, not least because FARC's command and control structure has not collapsed. The insurgents are adapting to military pressure through guerrilla warfare tactics, aggressive recruitment among rural populations, broadened involvement in drug trafficking and alliances with other armed groups and drug trafficking organisations. Colombia's next president, Juan Manuel Santos, will take office on 7 August. As part of an integrated conflict resolution strategy, his government must increase the country's law enforcement and military capability against all illegal armed groups, including FARC. It also has to strengthen institutions, expand the rule of law, rigorously protect human rights, reduce poverty and design the political/negotiations component of a successful conflict resolution strategy. Security consolidation can only take root if Colombia tackles its pervasive problems of organised violence, criminality and illegality in an integrated manner.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: India and Pakistan have consistently subjected Kashmiri interests to their own national security agendas and silenced calls for greater autonomy. With the start of their composite dialogue – comprehensive negotiations to resolve all contentious bilateral issues, including Kashmir, launched in February 2004 – both appeared willing to allow more interaction across the Line of Control (LOC) but failed to engage Kashmiris in the process. As a result, they did not take full advantage of opportunities to enhance cross-LOC cooperation by identifying the most appropriate Kashmir-specific confidence-building measures (CBMs), and bureaucratic resistance in both capitals resulted in uneven implementation of even those that had been agreed. India has suspended the composite dialogue since the November 2008 Mumbai attacks by Pakistan based militants, but neither New Delhi nor Islamabad has backtracked on these CBMs. Nevertheless, the CBM process will only achieve major results if the two sides devolve authority to Kashmir's elected representatives and take other vital steps to win over its alienated public.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Islam, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, India, Asia
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The two sentiments that define the political impasse in Papua are frustration on the part of many Papuans that “special autonomy” has meant so little, and exasperation on the part of many Indonesian government officials that Papuans are not satisfied with what they have been given. The gulf between the two might be reduced by dialogue, but any prospect of serious talks is hampered by an un-willingness of Jakarta to treat the problem as essentially a political, rather than an economic one. To move forward, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono needs personally to take the lead in recognising that autonomy means more than increased budgetary allocations or accelerated economic development. He needs to explore directly with credible Papuan leaders how political autonomy can be expanded; affirmative action policies strengthened in all sectors; and Papuan fears about in-migration addressed. Unless these three issues are tackled head on in face-to-face meetings, the impasse is unlikely to be broken and increased radicalisation is likely.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The monsoon floods in Pakistan have caused massive de- struction and turned a displacement crisis in the insecure western borderlands into a national disaster of mammoth proportions. When the floods hit, almost all those displaced from Malakand had returned hom e and were struggling to rebuild lives in a region where much of the infrastructure had been destroyed in fighting; 1.4 million more displaced from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) were living in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province. The disaster would have proved challenging under any circum- stance. The fragile civilian government, already tackling an insurgency, and its institutions, neglected during nine years of military rule, lack the capacity and the means to provide sufficient food, shelter, health and sanitation without international assistance. The Pakistan govern- ment and international actors should ensure those in the flood-devastated conflict zones are urgently granted the assistance they need to surv ive and to rebuild lives and livelihoods. If military objectives dictate rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts, a population exhausted by con- flict could become a soft target for militants, making sta- bility in the northwest even more elusive.
  • Topic: Human Welfare, Humanitarian Aid, Natural Disasters, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Eight years after independence, Timor-Leste is still with- out a legal basis for determining ownership of land. In its absence, the challenges of enforcing property rights have grown more complex and increased the potential for conflict. The politically charged task of sifting through over- lapping claims inherited from the country's two colonial administrations has been complicated by widespread illegal occupation of property after the displacement of over half the population that followed the 1999 referendum. The legal and social uncertainties this created magnified the effects of the country's 2006 crisis, causing further mass displacement in the capital and beyond. Resolution of these uncertainties through new laws, regulations and policies is necessary to reduce conflict, diminish the risk of further instability and to provide a clear way to resolve past and future disputes.
  • Topic: Environment, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Myanmar's 2010 elections present challenges and opportunities for China's relationship with its south-western neighbour. Despite widespread international opinion that elections will be neither free nor fair, China is likely to accept any poll result that does not involve major instability. Beijing was caught off-guard by the Myanmar military's offensive into Kokang in August 2009 that sent more than 30,000 refugees into Yunnan province. Since then it has used pressure and mediation to push Naypyidaw and the ethnic groups that live close to China's border to the negotiating table. Beyond border stability, Beijing feels its interests in Myanmar are being challenged by a changing bilateral balance of power due to the Obama administration's engagement policy and China's increasing energy stakes in the country. Beijing is seeking to consolidate political and economic ties by stepping up visits from top leaders, investment, loans and trade. But China faces limits to its influence, including growing popular opposition to the exploitation of Myanmar's natural resources by Chinese firms, and divergent interests and policy implementation between Beijing and local governments in Yunnan.
  • Topic: Democratization, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A bloody bank robbery in Medan in August 2010 and the discovery in Aceh in February 2010 of a terrorist training camp using old police weapons have focused public attention on the circulation of illegal arms in Indonesia. These incidents raise questions about how firearms fall into criminal hands and what measures are in place to stop them. The issue has become more urgent as the small groups of Indonesian jihadis, concerned about Muslim casualties in bomb attacks, are starting to discuss targeted killings as a preferred method of operation.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Arms Control and Proliferation, Crime, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Indonesia
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Le Liban traverse, à nouveau, une zone de graves dangers. La crise qu'il subit depuis l'assassinat en 2005 de l'an- cien premier ministre Rafic Hariri, connaît en effet une nouvelle mutation particulièrement dangereuse, à mesure que les perspectives de mises en accusation décidées par le tribunal international chargé d'enquêter sur ce meurtre se font plus précises. L'implication attendue de membres du Hizbollah a replongé la scène politique dans une lutte féroce, où se jouent tout à la fois les relations intercommu- nautaires, la légitimité de la résistance que ce mouvement incarne, la crédibilité du tribunal, la survie de l'actuel gouvernement d'unité nationale, la solidité du récent rap- prochement syro-saoudien et, plus généralement, la stabi- lité bien fragile du pays. Le soutien international offert au tribunal, son rejet catégorique par le Hizbollah, et la diffi- culté qu'il y a pour Saad Hariri, premier ministre et fils de Rafic, à le désavouer risque de conduire rapidement à une impasse, dont les effets se re porteront rapidement au ni- veau de la rue.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Arabia
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The deadly conflict in Thailand's predominantly Malay Muslim South is at a stalemate. Although military operations might have contributed to the reduction in violence, the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has made little effort to tackle the political grievances that drive the insurgency. A limited unilateral suspension of hostilities offered by rebels has met no significant response. Draconian laws that grant security forces sweeping powers remain imposed while justice for serious cases of past abuse remains unaddressed and torture of suspects continues. As bloody anti-government protests in Bangkok distracted the nation in early 2010, the death toll in the six-year-long insurgency steadily climbed. The conflict in the Deep South remains on the margins of Thai politics and unresolved. A paradigm shift is needed to acknowledge that assimilation of Malay Muslims has failed and that recognition of their distinct ethno-religious identity is essential. Dialogue with insurgents and reform of governance structures remain two missing components of a comprehensive political solution.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Asia, Thailand, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: U.S. military operations in Afghanistan are now entering their tenth year and policymakers in Washington are looking for a way out. A policy review is due in December but the outline is already clear: U.S. forces will try to pummel the Taliban to bring them to the table, responsibility for security will increasingly be transferred to Afghan forces and more money will be provided for economic development. NATO partners agreed at the Lisbon summit to a gradual withdrawal of combat troops with the goal of transitioning to full Afghan control of security by the end of 2014. The aim will be a dignified drawdown of troops as public support wanes while at the same time ensuring that a post-withdrawal Afghanistan, at the very least, does not become the epicentre of transnational terrorism. While success is being measured in numbers of insurgents killed or captured, there is little proof that the operations have disrupted the insurgency's momentum or increased stability. The storyline does not match facts on the ground.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Washington, Taliban, Lisbon
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A la veille du second tour de l'élection présidentielle, la tension ne cesse de monter entre les partisans de Laurent Gbagbo et ceux d'Alassane Ouattara. Le 19 et le 22 novembre des échauffourées ont opposé des partisans des deux candidats, faisant, plusieurs blessés. Ces incidents sont symptomatiques de la détérioration du climat en Côte d'Ivoire depuis l'annonce des résultats du premier tour. Ils s'ajoutent à la brutalité de certains discours de campagne et font planer le spectre d'un scrutin calamiteux. L'heure n'est plus à l'autosatisfaction et aux exhortations courtoises. Le message unique de la communauté internationale et des Nations unies doit être clair : les acteurs politiques et militaires ivoiriens doivent accepter les résultats du vote du 28 novembre. Ceux qui opteraient pour le sabotage du dernier acte de cette présidentielle par des fraudes, des intimidations d'électeurs ou des violences s'exposeront à de nouvelles sanctions individuelles de l'ONU.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Sudan's fragile Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is entering its final phase, and a critical vote on Southern self-determination looms, but foundations for a constructive post-referendum relationship are yet to be laid. In addition to a handful of outstanding CPA items, future arrangements on citizenship and nationality, natural resource management (oil and water), currency, assets and liabilities, security and international treaties must be negotiated, regardless of the referendum's outcome. Many in Sudan and abroad are focused on ensuring the referendum exercise takes place on 9 January as planned. But simultaneously pursuing agreement on the broader postreferendum agenda is not only critical for a peaceful transition and long-term regional stability, but may also serve the more immediate objective of clearing the path for a mutually accepted referendum.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Two and a half years after the war with Russia, Georgia's political life is increasingly turning towards preparations for the 2012-2013 elections and debates around divisions of power after a recent overhaul of the constitution. The substantial amendments, which come into force in 2013 at the same time as President Mikheil Saakashvili steps down due to a term limit, will give much greater power to the prime minister. The next two years will go a long way in determining whether the country progresses toward a truly stable, modern democracy, or deteriorates into a fragile, pseudo-pluralistic and stagnating system. The government and political opposition movement need to use that crucial period to create public trust in democratic institutions. The best way to achieve this is by engaging in meaningful dialogue to ensure a fair election cycle, strengthened rule of law, economic stability and the legitimacy of the future government.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics, War
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Macedonia is a relative success story in a region scarred by unresolved statehood and territory issues. International engagement has, since the 2001 conflict with an ethnic Albanian insurgency, brought progress in integrating Albanians into political life. This has been underpinned by the promise of European Union (EU) and NATO integration, goals that unite ethnic Macedonians and Albanians. But the main NATO/EU strategy for stabilising Macedonia and the region via enlargement was derailed in 2008 by the dispute with Greece over the country's name. Athens claims that, by calling itself “Macedonia”, it appropriates part of the Hellenic heritage and implies a claim against Greece's northern province. At summits it blocked Macedonian membership in NATO and EU accession talks until the issue is settled. Mystifying to outsiders, the dispute touches existential nerves, especially in Macedonia, and has serious regional implications. The parties need to rebuild trust; member states need to press both to compromise, especially Greece to respect its commitment not to block Skopje in international organisations.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, NATO, Ethnic Conflict, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Macedonia, Albania
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: How is one to engage Damascus? As the incoming U.S. administration examines the future of its relationship with Syria, seemingly persuaded that an improvement in bilateral ties and an Israeli-Syrian agreement could fundamentally modify the regional landscape, France's recent experience offers useful lessons. Determined to engage in dialogue - but also ready to break off if the other side was uncooperative - and creative in approach, while fixing it within a clearly defined framework of objectives, President Sarkozy also knew how to seize on unexpected opportunities when they presented themselves.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Syria
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The election for governor in Indonesia's North Maluku province was one of the most bitterly contested since direct elections for local government heads were introduced in 2005. Held in November 2007, it remains in dispute more than a year later, although a winner has been named and inaugurated. At one point it seemed as if violence between the two sides could escalate into serious communal conflict, in an area where thousands had died in religious violence a decade earlier. By early 2009, however, it looked as though Indonesia's democratic institutions would be resilient enough to cope with an election gone wrong, and the dispute would be quietly resolved in the Constitutional Court. The Court's decision is expected in early February. The dispute that many thought could trigger further turmoil may prove instead to be a minor wrangle in Indonesia's largely successful effort to choose local government leaders by direct popular vote.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Six months after the collapse of autonomy negotiations between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippines government, low-intensity conflict continues but moves are under way to resurrect talks. It is not clear whether negotiations will resume and if they do, with what agenda. Certainly no settlement is likely during the remaining tenure of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo; the two sides are too far apart, the potential spoilers too numerous, and the political will too weak. The best that can be hoped for is progress around the edges.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, War
  • Political Geography: Israel, Asia, Philippines, Mindanao